During the Global Peace Convention 2013, in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, Executive Director of Fathers Incorporated and Director of the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse , Kenneth Braswell spoke during the Forum on Strengthening Families. He addressed the imperative that we face as a society to focus on family strengthening as a means to establishing social justice and peace. He focused on the need to reestablish the notion that parenting must be a cooperative effort between the mother and the father and that both parties must be valued as equally important. During his presentation, Braswell challenged the audience to reconsider the way that strengthening families is viewed. Traditionally the area has focused on empowering women and children. Braswell urges, “Men have to be involved”, especially as fathers.
Braswell largely focuses on men and providing men with the family support resources, but he emphasized to the audience that being pro fatherhood, by no means anti motherhood. In fact for Braswell, the child of a single-mother household, his mother was of utmost significance in his lifetime. In an interview, Braswell said his mother always told him that while she could be a lot of things for him, she could never be his father. He learned at an early age that a child’s relationship with their fathers or other male figures, particularly in childhood and early adulthood, is imperative.
Through a simple equation, Braswell shows the need for balance in healthy parenting and healthy childhoods.
From his personal story as well as the stories that he has heard and seen throughout his 21 years in community development, he has become an advocate for support and social services for both mothers and fathers. Without two healthy and capable parents, the children, the family, social and world structures of tomorrow will suffer. He pointed out that as President Obama often says, “We need fathers to realize that responsibility does not end at conception. We need them to realize that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child – it’s the courage to raise one.” Anybody can be a biological father, but it takes a real man to step up and be a responsible and caring parent.
Braswell also builds on the critical relationship between men and women. According to Braswell, men should be the greatest champions of women’s rights. Often men are responsible for violations of women’s rights. They must be held accountable. At the close of the session, he asked all the men to “stand up” for women and families.
In his own life and professional endeavors, Braswell has found support not only within his family, but also his faith and faith community. For Braswell, the motto of One Family under God encompasses all of humanity as equally significant. In his ministry and public works he urges faith leaders to work with both men and women as parents to strengthen the ties throughout the community. Braswell poses the question, “How can [we] profess to have a relationship with THE FATHER [PARENT], but not have a relationship with ours?” The task of building families and raising socially conscious and productive individuals is a team effort. It requires all parties involved to be nurtured and equip with the proper tools and skills necessary to be responsible parents.
Based on the words of the late Nelson Mandela, Braswell says that love and peace are notions of the heart, so in order to change the way that we interact with one another, we must begin to change our hearts towards one another. He believes and encourages us to believe that through mutual respect and understanding, the family and then the community can overcome all obstacles and begin to establish peace and love throughout humanity.
While human nature may lead men and women to fill particular roles of a loving mother and a protecting father, human ability allows us to play both roles, and so many more. However, no matter how many parts an individual can lead in, the outcome accomplished through teamwork is undeniably stronger and more sustainable. Understanding the challenge that we face as a society, challenges that are tied to the breakdown of the partnership of parents, Braswell calls upon each of us as individuals to be responsible in our roles as care givers, providers and nurturers.